tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 16, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT
country. interesting. a wonderful rant. thank you for the lesson in how democrats and republicans can come together to control their interests at our expense. that does it for us. i am dylan ratigan. hard ball is up now. i'm gone next week as well. catch you in a week. republicans rumble in chicago. let's play "hardball."/ republicans rumble in chicago. let's play "hardball."s republicans rumble in chicago. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, my kind of town, chicago is. and the rest of illinois, too. that's the tune rick santorum hopes to be singing after tuesday's illinois primary. the obama team may like to see this race dragon to tampa. they could be rooting for santorum to nail another hull.
also, the war on women. to republicans, it is a democratic fiction. to democrats, it is the season narrative. catch this. the tie-breaker. arizona republicans are about to pass a bill that actually allows employers to require women getting reimbursed for birth control to prove they don't plan to use them for birth control. get it? we'll try to. and republicans say the price of gas would come down with drill, baby drill. democrats say we are already drilling and the price keeps going up. who is right. as if things couldn't get worse in afghanistan, karzai wants u.s. troops confined to barracks by next year. he is questioning whether only one american was involved in that massacre. is there any way out of this mess over there? finally, let me finish with the long family secret of ours, who my mother voted for back in 1960, in the kennedy nixon race. it is a big st. patrick's day story. we begin with the fight for
illinois. john howell man writes for "new york" magazine, and david writes for mother jones. political analysts of the highest order. what we have is this. poll taken wednesday, two days ago. of likely republican voters in illinois, shows romney on top with 37. santorum at 31. gingrich, way down there at 14, and paul at 8. let me go to you, john howellman. is this a chance for greatness for santorum to win a big state? >> certainly a chance for greatness, chris. the state of illinois hasn't had a competitive primary in decades on the republican presidential side. it is very much a state divided between the north and south. you have republican, suburban republican counties around chicago and suburbs that are pretty moderate, should be romney country. then down state illinois, very conservative, much more like the south than like anything around
chicago, and that's good hunting ground for santorum. gingrich has more or less abandoned the field, made a quick stop there today or yesterday, is now headed to camp out in louisiana. that 14% that gingrich has may erode considerably, may erode to santorum's advantage. it would be a huge win for santorum if he could pick up illinois after coming in so close in michigan and ohio, winning in the midwest. would be a blow to romney, give santorum huge bragging rights going forward. >> i love this idea. nothing impressed me as much as the pictures i have seen in movies, never been there, of the beautiful chicago suburbs. i keep thinking of that wonderful movie with the gorgeous elizabeth shue, adventures in baby-sitting. they look like perfect romney voters, well off, well turned out, well educated, republicans who are probably good on the fiscal issues, they like to save the taxpayers money on poor
people programs. romney country, right? john? >> yes, yes, sorry, thought you were talk to go david corn. >> yes. talking about rich republicans. >> absolutely. look, chicago suburbs, i went to college at northwestern university. i know the suburbs pretty well, they are culturally, politically aligned to romney. you go to peoria, it is like nashville, not chicago. >> what about the polish people and catholics there, are they going with santorum? >> they could on cultural conservative issues. you talked about john hughes territory if you think of the movies, "home alone" and things like that. if i was the mitt romney -- >> was that in chicago suburbs? >> yeah. if i were in mitt romney camp, saw poll numbers like that, 36, 37, 31, i would be damn scared
because rick santorum continues to outperform his polling numbers. i think there's a good reason why. the intensity gap. if on tuesday, you look out the window, it looks like it may be a chance of rain, the romney voters say oh, i don't think so. but the santorum voters say oh, biblical reign? this makes sense. i'm going to the polls. >> i love it. let's look. here is mitt romney. this is the kill joy of all time. what we have been watching. the absolutely negative ads run by romney, usually by the offshore operation, restore our super pac. this one run by his campaign with his name on it. look at the new mitt romney campaign ad running in illinois that goes after rick santorum. >> who can turn around the economy and defeat barack obama?
not rick santorum. his real weakness is the economy. he has never run a business or state. his plan? economic illiteracy. inexcusable. the worst idea of any gop candidate. rick santorum. another economic light weight. mitt romney, ready to lead the nation to a new era with the boldest gop agenda since reagan. >> i'm mitt romney, and i approved this message. >> that's the most down beat, grim ad. it is dark in color, dark in mood, dark in music. only at the end does it say anything slightly upbeat. john, that's the despicable kind of politics i hate. drives down voter participation. it runs people out of politics. who wants to join a business described like that? who wants to be a young person in their 30s and run for politics if that's the crap you have to put up with. john heilemann. >> it is certainly not inspiring. yet as you know, chris, romney campaign has been successful running negative campaigns throughout this primary season, and they do it very well.
they have been successfully doing it, they had big financial advantages, put negative ads on the air through the campaign itself or usually more so through the super pac. it has worked for them in the past. i talked to john braybender, rick santorum's chief strategist, he is saying we have to stay focused on the economy in illinois. santorum wants to talk economic message to rebutt those ads. he has had a hard time staying on the economy. we will see in the next few days if he does. >> does he get any free media. here is the pro-santorum red, white and blue fund, they have another ad on romney. let's watch. >> meet the real mitt romney. supported the wall street bailout, putting america trillions in debt. raised taxes and fees, leaving massachusetts over a billion in debt. his healthcare takeover, the blueprint for obama care. romney, more of the same.
rick santorum, a bold plan for the middle class. create jobs and cut wasteful spending. red white and blue fund responsible for the content of this ad. >> saw it the other day, reminded me of "the wizard of oz." all black and white until you get to rick santorum, then it bursts into color, chris. it is like the polar opposite of the romney ad. >> except it seems a little more fact, point by point, not just derogatory. >> can you imagine if mitt romney should happen to lose tuesday how darker the ads will be. the desperation keeps mounting. he says the math is inevitable, but the desperation keeps mounting on the romney side. >> you know what i have first to you john, then david. i have a sense four or five men or women, i don't know how it works out gender wise, not important, four smart market analysts, data miners. they sit somewhere in massachusetts, somewhere near
boston or belmont, working for romney. they're thinking what's coming up. we have louisiana. how much ad can we get, how much money put into negative tv advertising just to kill this guy, whoever the guy happens to be, now it is santorum. spend just enough, not a nickel more than necessary, like joe kennedy use to say, i am not paying for a landslide, son. it is so businessy. is that what's going on, john heilemann? >> it is a data driven campaign. mitt romney is a data driven guy. people around him are data driven people. you know, and there's a repair for it, when it comes to the ad spending. this is a campaign that was supposed to be one of its great advantages would be its financial advantage. it spent a ton of money and a lot more money than ever expected to have to spend on this republican nomination fight, and they are still believing they'll be the nominee, mitt romney will be the nominee. they are trying to conserve resources.
eventually they have to go against barack obama. there's a reason to not spend more than they need to. yes, they are very, very careful, methodical, spread sheet driven operation. >> does anybody like mitt romney more because of the $100 million that he spent? >> of course not. the problem is they're trying to sell a northeastern moderate republican governor to republican primary base that has gone so right, it is almost off the cliff. so they've had to spend a lot of money rebranding, repackaging. it caused a problem because there's authenticity gap. john is right. the way david plouffe was good with metrics, in a way they're selling something the base doesn't want, and trying to cram it down its throat by all of the ads, mainly by attack ads. >> i was inspired by barack obama as everybody knows, dramatically so. i don't know anybody inspired by romney, right left or center. >> what is the romney message?
>> i believe this country is a presidential country. if you don't have inspiration at the top, the country is not led. i see nothing in terms of positive from romney. i see smart business, he is a man of business. thank you. have a nice weekend, john heilemann in new york, and david corn, thank you so much, my buddy. coming up, republicans insist there's no war on women. of course they don't see it that way. democrats do. this is hot, hot politics. gender politics. then why are republicans out in arizona about to pass a bill to require women trying to get reimbursed for birth control to prove they're taking it for medical reasons, not to do with birth control? this is strange. we're going to try to explain it. and this doesn't help the republicans, but it is ahead. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro. omnipotent of opportunity.
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and a landmark law, so that a woman that does the same job as a man can get the same pay. >> we'll make sure our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, the same freedoms to pursue their dreams as our sons. >> wow. welcome back to "hardball." that excerpt precipitation an obama campaign video. a feature, that message of his
stump speech these days. he makes clear the first piece of legislation he signed as president of the united states is a law that benefits women, at a time when women's access to healthcare is being challenged in washington, d.c., here and in numerous state legs tours around the country, a popular message. lily ledbetter fought for women's rights, rights to equal pay. didn't stop until it was law, lily ledbetter fair pay act. she tells it in her book, "grace and grid." also have allyson schwartz from pennsylvania. it is not her fault, this is state legislature, she's a national legislator, women have to have ultrasound before abortion. welcome to you both. i don't know where to start. let's start in pennsylvania. there are two measures. let me go with congresswoman schwartz. try to explain to us. you're opposed to it, i assume
you are. why are republicans in harrisburg, pennsylvania diddling around with this. ultrasound requirements 40 years after roe versus wade. isn't this another way to punish those having abortion? >> i can't speak to motivation of legislators speaking for this in harrisburg or the governor supporting it. really was pretty offensive when he said look, women can just look the other way when this invasive procedure and unnecessary one at that is being done to them. it is pretty insensitive and outrageous. all you can say is they're ignoring the real concerns that women and men have, which is access to healthcare, access to women's health services that includes pap smears, mammograms, and full gynecological examinations and contraception. it is pretty off the charts in terms of what really most men
and women in this country are thinking about, which is i want access to healthcare that i need, and honestly, we're really interested in the economy and jobs, and thank you, lilly ledbetter for stepping up, and the concerns many of us have, meeting those challenges, and instead, seeing legislation that's just time and time again hammering on ways that they can make it much harder for women to access health services they need. >> hold on, lilly ledbetter, she brought up something. here is tom corbett on this issue. let me explain this setup. he is explaining his defense in this required legislation and state law that would require women before look at a screen of a sonogram, in effect, an ultrasound before they choose to have an abortion as part of the procedure. here he is explaining that requirement. >> wouldn't change it, as long
as it is not intrusive. waiting to see. >> making them watch, does that go too far in your mind? >> i don't know how you can make anybody watch, okay? you just have to close your eyes. but as long as it's on exterior, not interior. >> well, lilly ledbetter, generally, i know you're not an expert on this, but a case where the republican party for whatever reason is pushing very hard here to i think make having an abortion, also certainly not a joyful experience for anyone, to make it even less so, and make it something i would think, putting a burden on a woman, forcesing her through a new procedure on top of ones she is already going through. what do you think, you've been in these fights. you're a pioneer. >> chris, you hit the nail on the head. this is a war on women, and women across this nation i hope are waking up and listening to what's being said by the republican party, and this is
too much control over the women's lives and to say that they have in their life because this is not right in this country, and i'll date myself. i go way back. i remember when roe versus wade was passed into law. i remember young women who needed abortion and could not get one. they would have to use other means, go out of the country because no medical doctor or facility would do them before roe versus wade, no matter what the reason. this is a war on women. now we can't get our birth control medication insured and get payment for it without having to prove all these things? this is not right. this is not right. >> well, i take it back to congresswoman schwartz. this is politics. try to define the other side. you're defending women to do their own decision making which
makes perfect sense to most people. on the other side, people culturally from their own moral perspective are getting very aggressive here. these issues i thought were settled. certainly i had not heard a sermon in my own religion against birth control since the 1950s, seriously, as a church going person, never heard it within my cultural world and religious world. to bring it to the public square, to bring it into the legal world, to fight it there, it seems to be very aggressive for people. your thought. >> you know that you've seen men and women across this country support access to contraception. they do. and they use contraception or they don't. that's their personal decision. but the fact is that it is a part of women's healthcare, and men support it as well. so from a political perspective, i have to say, i understand there are people who -- it is a difficult issue for some people, people feel very strongly about
it, but religious freedom in this country means our government doesn't make those religious or moral decisions for you, and offers opportunity for women to get the health services they need, and this is a conversation i thought we had years ago that we would have access to important women's medical care, and it would be done in a safe and legal way. so this is an interesting political decision on the part of the republicans to take this on time and time again, on the federal level we've seen we almost shut down the government over trying to not fund planned parenthood and family planning services. we've seen obviously recent legislation to try to make sure contraception is not part of standard insurance packages, which it is now in this country. so you're right. some of this felt it was settled, bringing up issues that feel very extreme, very right wing, very narrow agenda, again
when all of us, many of us, and most americans want us to be tackling improved access to health services for all americans, making sure we tackle issues around the economy. it is hard to understand. and it is losing women's votes. >> great to have you represent my old area. the 58th ward. great to have you up there with those people. let me ask lilly ledbetter, one of the most famous people on the show, what do you think is going on in the republican party? why do they take up the cause against as you see it, against women as a gender? what ask in their culture that makes them keep going to the m ramparts in the war against women's rights? >> they don't recognize women for their worth and value, two, distracts from the campaign now what really is important, and it is just like what the senator said, we need jobs in this country. we need to put women back to work.
we need to get our women for our family's sake paid equally to what the men are paid, and we've got to focus on our american families to get this country built back up to where we were at one time, being number one around the world. and we're losing it with our family issue, with women having to work two jobs, maybe two and a half, working on a weekend, to make ends meet and still can't, and have to have help from their families. another thing i learned traveling this country, chris, is that the older women in this country make up the largest group of seniors, and we, most of us, are widows, and some are having to move in their children's homes, and this is not right. this is a hardship in this country on the american family, and it's just a fundamental right that our families can get these healthcare services covered, that we can be paid
equally for our work, because it is a fundamental american right. >> thank you so much, it is an honor having you on, lilly ledbetter. my daughter works at google, college grad from penn. if she found one of the guys working her level made more money, i wouldn't want to be between her and the boss. thank you. allyson schwartz, thank you from pennsylvania. i'm watching your career, watching how well you're doing on ways and means. perhaps something greater soon, at some point. mitt romney's dogged by the story about the dog, irish setter on the roof of his car, it ain't going away, governor. check out the side show. [ male announcer ] the game of life with the prius c!
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the joy ride continues. yesterday we had some fun with that infamous, notorious story of mitt romney strapping his dog, fair enough, in a kennel to the top of the car for a long road trip to canada, that will just continue to dog him if you will on the campaign trail. an article by bob shrum suggests he has the role of romney's dog in the presidential race. quote from his column. republican voters are now the political equivalent of mitt romney's famously abused dog, s seamus. he put voters on the roof of his car, and he is driving for the nomination whether they like it or not. more accurately, he is sputtering toward the nomination as the roof bound electorate periodically poops on his parade. thank you for that, bob. up next, on the offensive, chicago mayor rahm emanuel
delivered a dig against mitt romney. remember his reaction to rush limbaugh, calling a georgetown university student a slut for supporting contraception. watch this. >> not the language i would have used. and i am focusing on the issues i think are significant in the country today. >> here is rahm in his signature attack mode. >> give advice to the republicans, they don't take it, i don't want to give it. they'll make whatever decision they want to make. but as you look at the fortitude and strength, the determination and vision the president made, juks at that pose it mitt romney who doesn't have the strength and character to stand up to rush limbaugh. if you can't stand up to rush, how are you going to stand up to russia? >> he hit the suburbs to campaign for next week's primary there. finally, just kidding. talk about a campaign snafu,
both conventions held in the same building, enter dan dolan who arrived after multiple events to speak at the republican convention. according to the candidate, my staffer runs up and says hey, dan dolan is here, can he speak. so they stopped everything, and i get up there, and give my speech, i get it done. guy raises his hand, said i think you want to talk to the republicans. republican hopeful, dan boy, was speaking to a roomful of democrats. that's the stuff of nightmares. ask about it later. asked about it later, dolan said he is not sure how many votes i won in that room that day. anyway, it happens. up next, republicans want to drill to lower gas prices, something experts say isn't possible. president obama is vulnerable to the charge, problem of rising gas prices in this country, what options does the president have?
that's ahead. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. you know when i grow up, i'm going to own my own restaurant. i want to be a volunteer firefighter. when i grow up, i want to write a novel. i want to go on a road trip. when i grow up, i'm going to go there. i want to fix up old houses. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing. i want to fall in love again. [ female announcer ] discover what's next in your life. get this free travel bag when you join at aarp.org/jointoday. for fastidious librarianl bag when you join emily skinner, each day was fueled by thorough preparation for events to come. well somewhere along the way, emily went right on living. but you see, with the help of her raymond james financial advisor,
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welcome back to "hardball." high gas prices are making it painful to fill up your gas tank these days. the national average by the way for a gallon of gas, for regular, jumped 30 cents, 31 cents the last month, to 3.82. what is the republican plan to lower the price. drill, baby drill, you hear it a lot. here is mitt romney's rendition on fox news last night. let's listen. >> there are a lot of people really suffering, having tough times because of gas prices. i can cut through the baloney in the taskforce, tell them, mr. president, open drilling in the gulf and in anwar, drill in north dakota, texas, get our oil resources. the president is looking to
blame and he ought to look in the mirror. >> only one problem with this, that's not true. prices are set in the global market, the u.s. makes up a small part of the total production. pump it here, it is on the world market two seconds later. republicans think they found a winning political argument here and may well have. president obama could find himself feeling the pain if prices continue to soar. of course, we all know the facts, politically, joe walsh, msnbc political analyst, from salon, and republican strategy gist. joan, you're a strong arguer for difficult cases. i believe there's a gasoline price that could defeat any president, any time. i don't know whether 6 bucks a gallon, 7 bucks a gallon. there is a point that the public will say i don't care what the reason is, i'm blaming you because you're the only guy i can blame. is that the politics, pure and simple, of gas prices? >> you know, i think it could
be, chris. i don't know that we're going to get to that number, but republicans probably hope that we do. that seems to be their strategy. you know, unemployment is coming down. consumer confidence is going up. the republican party is off on a crazy jihad against contraception and privacy issues they're going to regret. this is the one thing they do have, prices are going up, and it is painful for middle class people to fill the tank. so you know, they're playing politics with this. at the same time, we also can see very clearly that production, domestic oil and gas production is at an all-time high. it increased 50% since 2006. now, in that same period, you've seen the price of gas go up since 2006, pretty steadily, so really, there's not a whole lot of connection between our domestic drilling and production, and the price of gas at the pump. it is a global phenomenon, we are in a global market. india, china, developing nations competing, want the same
gasoline. so there's not a whole lot a president can do. people don't want to hear that necessarily, but it is the truth. >> john, is it a global market for gas? if we pump gas, we find a new eureka, titusville, pennsylvania? the minute gaskets abo gets abo ground, chinese can buy it as fast as we can, why does the drill, baby, drill have to do with price at the pump if it is a global price? >> obviously it is a global price. you have those market forces working. the problem for the president, he is vulnerable when it comes to gas prices. his energy secretary -- >> wait a minute. >> when does the president cave on keystone. he is politically vulnerable because this is long term price
stability. >> you have a good case. difficult for the incumbent to defend high gas prices. saw it happen to jerry ford and jimmy carter when he was working there. here is the question. keystone, good argument. here is keystone, people like robert redford, daryl hannah, but i understand the goes goes to texas and overseas. >> it is. have representative ed markey on the show, he talked about this a lot. he even had the ceo of trans-canada in a hearing and said how about making sure some of that gas, if we get go ahead on this, how about making sure some of that product gets sold here. he said no. the point is, it is a tax free zone. they get to sell it to asia, mostly to china. it is not about the domestic market. the other argument they have, jobs, it will create a few
thousand temporary construction jobs. neither argument works for keystone. >> i know the politics, we know the politics. higher the gas price, worse off the president is. i understand that. everybody knows that. when i talk to the guy i go to for money advice, i say why is the price of gas going up. he tells me it is fear over possible war in iran. >> no question. >> just like you hoard, people hear a flood is coming, they buy bottled water. hear something is coming, you buy what you're afraid you'll need. everybody is hoarding, buying futures, because we're afraid. by the way, i watched the president, we all did, and i think he notched it up. the possibility for avoiding it is shrinking for the war in iran. maybe it is power talk to the other side, but isn't that the reason gas prices are up? threat of war with iran. >> plenty of reasons gas prices are up. it is a very complicated argument. what voters see, they see barack
obama is the president and gas prices are going up and blame him. they always blame the president. >> i think we have a nice circle of agreement. it is not the president's fault. >> that's not what i said. >> what did you say? >> i said he will get blamed for it. keystone thing will be blame for him. we have increased energy prices, that can be used. >> what can the president do to reduce gas prices, right now. >> allow for more production. he can say yes to keystone. >> joan, is that right? >> no, that's not right. john knows it is not right. keystone oil goes to china. if we drilled every square inch underwater, on land we currently don't drill on, it might create half a million gallons a day. that's a lot. but that would be in 2030. and analysts say it might bring down the price per gallon by three or four cents, which is
not nothing, but talking about in 2030. so it does nothing. >> let mitt romney make the case. he blamed the president for high gas prices. earlier interview on fox news, he conceded the price of oil was not ultimately in the hands of the president. let's listen to your guy. >> no one can guarantee what the price are oil is going to be. what we can do is take advantage of what we know we have, abundant energy resources in this country. the president has lots of places to point his finger, and of course, we alone don't set world energy prices, but we can effect whether we send billions of dollars out of our country to people that don't like us very much, and we can determine whether we have effect on direction of those energy prices by having abundant supplies here. >> what did he say. >> romney is right. >> he said you can't effect the price, you can effect whether we buy from the arabs or us. >> he is right. >> but can't effect the price. play it again?
>> he had policies, long term policies impact the price if you have hostility towards the oil industry like barack obama does, it increases prices. >> how does that work? >> he wants to increase taxes, wants to make it harder to produce energy here, that's what's going to happen. prices go up because of policies of president obama. >> i thought you would make a strong argument, john feehery. can we agree on one thing, got the snakes from ireland. went to the cathedral in new york, he is a legitimate saint, not off the list, he is real, not a legend. your tie is definitely for real. next time somebody says you're overdoing it, punch them in the mouth. somebody says you're overdoing it a little. thank you, joan walsh. they say that to you, do what you have to do. >> happy st. patrick's day, chris. >> you're overdoing it a bit, aren't you, joany? thank you, john feehery. next, karzai says he is at the end of his rope after the
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was at the end of the rope over the he was at the end of the rope over the u.s.'s alleged lack of cooperation. joining me to talk about the situation in afghanistan is msnbc correspondent atia. i guess it's a wide-open field for you for a few minutes. what is going on? do they really believe there was more than one shooter? is this going to continue as an issue, or what? >> hi there, chris. they believe there was more than one shooter. right now -- today, actually, there were family members of the victims who made their way to kabul, including a man who lost nine family members in that sunday massacre, crying to president karzai and crying for justice. as president karzai was listening to them, he paid attention to the afghan delegation that he sent down to kandahar to investigate what went on, a delegation that included two of president karzai's brothers. they came back and said that they do believe there was a
possibility that there was more than one shooter even after u.s. officials showed them surveillance video from a security blimp in the area with one u.s. service member coming back to the base and surrendering. but hearing from the afghans, hearing them cry makes president karzai believe them. he's not hearing much from the americans that he wants to hear from, such as president obama. >> let me ask you about the larger question. in the wake of this tragedy, which everyone recognizes is horrific and something has got to be done about it. he's going to now ask our soldiers to head to the bases, to the barracks, and be there at reserve. in other words, sort of withdraw from visibility. is that what it's about, getting us out of exchanges and interaction with the people? is that what he's trying to do, karzai, or just to punish us?
>> reporter: it's not clear exactly what he's trying to do. but if they come out of those villages, the coin strategy that was implemented in 2009 and the whole purpose of the coin strategy was to have the nato forces interacting with these afghans, trying to win their hearts and minds. right now what it seems is if president karzai pulls these soldiers and marines out of these areas, it's as if to say, you're not going to win the hearts and minds. you've already lost the hearts a and minds of the afghan people. more so, he doesn't believe in the mission. that's what people are getting from it. but we should also say that leon panetta, secretary of defense who was here the last couple of days, he had an exclusive interview with an afghan tv station and said beyond 2014, they want to implement and continue with the counterterrorism strategy, which is kind of what president karzai
is pointing at, by staying in the main bases and going out on big operations or when the afghan people ask them for help. it's not necessarily going against what the americans are aiming to achieve in the coming years. >> thank you so much for that report. it seems like he recommended a counterterrorism strategy rather than a counter surge see strategy. what a story you're on. atia abawi for nbc news. the perfect gift for me and other members of my family for st. patrick's day. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. if there were buttons for this? wouldn't it be cool if your car could handle the kids... ♪ ...and the nurburgring? or what if you built a car in tennessee
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let me finish tonight with this. my brother, jim, who is a politician in pennsylvania, gave me the greatest st. patrick's gift the other day. he told me how my mom voted in the 1960 presidential election. a family secret for a half century. as some of you know, i grew up in a republican family and since we were catholic back then, we've always been catholic, that presented something of a conflict. when i asked my dad whom he intended to vote for, he said nixon without hesitation. aren't we catholic, i pushed him? shouldn't we be for kennedy? i'm a republican, he insisted.
it was a simple all-explaining answer. a catholic convert with a mother from northern ireland and a father from england, dad didn't feel the tribal pull. so my mother born mare reteresa shields, catholic to the core, is the person of interest this night before st. patrick's day. i could tell she was keeping her sympathies to herself as to make less trouble in the house. this week, my beloved brother jim broke the family secret. while watching president kennedy on television back in 1961, out of nowhere, quote, mom blurted out, don't tell your father, he'd kill me, but i voted for him, meaning kennedy. well, kennedy's election, to those who no longer realize it, was an historic event for catholics and irishes and other minorities in this country. he broke down the door to the
american presidency, showing that the country was changing itself, that opportunities were opening for all right up to the very top. it was more than just getting through that door himself. as my son michael pointed out just the other day, in one year, jack kennedy's election turned a segregationist party all through the party into a civil rights party. it was kennedy who used his presidency to breakdown the barriers to racial equality in this country. it was kennedy who took federal troops into action to end discrimination, who went on television to say, it ought to be possible for every american to enjoy the privileges of being an american, who introduced the historic civil rights bill himself. tomorrow, on st. patrick's day, it was an irish american who did these great things and a matter of great family pride that my mom, my mom, had the nerve to quietly break with my father's old-school ways and walk into that voting